Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Book of Mormon vs. the LDS Church

A few days ago, two Mormon missionaries came by my house and wanted to talk. I made an appointment for tonight so I could prepare a few notes (which are below).

There are a lot of problems with Mormonism. The three biggest are that it has an insufficient savior, inconsistent sources of authority, and an impossible salvation (i.e., works-based). Of course, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does a masterful job of minimizing these issues by using the same terminology used in the Bible.

Nevertheless, I needed to decide on how to plant the seeds of the gospel with these missionaries. I
chose a rather unusual strategy: gently point out some key differences between what the LDS church taught them and what the Book of Mormon teaches. If I could get these guys to begin to question their beliefs (which they are trained NOT to do), it could lead to them looking toward the real Christ. A faith can only be true if it is consistent with itself.

Below is the text that I prepared. (I left blanks next to "LDS" to allow them to tell me the answer.) The references are found in The Book of Mormon. Do not be concerned that these references may teach doctrine consistent with the Bible, for there are many other Mormon scriptures that contradict the Bible.

“Is there more than one God?”
LDS = 
Book of Mormon = No.
  • Last sentence of the Book of Mormon’s “The Testimony of Three Witnesses”: “And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.” - Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris
  • Alma 11:22, 28-29 - 27 And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. 28 Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? 29 And he answered, No.
  • Alma 11:38-39 - 38 Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? 39 And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;
  • Statement in the 2nd paragraph of the title page: - And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations 

“Does God change?”
LDS = “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”
Book of Mormon = No
  • Mormon 9:9-11, 19 - 9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? 10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles. 11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. 19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
  • Moroni 8:18 - 18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

“Does God have a body, or is He a spirit?”
LDS = 
Book of Mormon = God is a spirit.
  • Alma 18:24-28 - 24 And Ammon began to speak unto him with boldness, and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? 25 And he answered, and said unto him: I do not know what that meaneth. 26 And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? 27 And he said, Yea. 28 And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?
  • Alma 22:9-11 - 9 And the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem? 10 And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believest thou this? 11 And he said: Yea, I believe that the Great Spirit created all things, and I desire that ye should tell me concerning all these things, and I will believe thy words.

“Is a new birth necessary to become a child of God?”
LDS = 
Book of Mormon = Yes.
  • Mosiah 27:24-28 - 24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. 25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; 26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. 27 I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off. 28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.
  • Alma 5:14 - And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
  • 3 Nephi 9:17 - And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.

Have you been born again?


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At 10:12 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I was once a Mormon missionary, and am still very much a practicing Mormon. I hope you have a great experience and meaningful discussion with the missionaries, but might I offer some suggestions.

The third question is manipulative. Mormons, of course, believe that God both has a body and a spirit.

You may want to rephrase the fourth, as the scriptures and LDS teachings can refer to multiple things when discussing "becoming children of God" or "rebirth". The missionaries can certainly explain in better detail if you want to understand.

I'm not sure what you mean by claiming that these are "key differences between what the LDS church taught them and what the Book of Mormon teaches." These same passages are taught in LDS Sunday schools across the globe, and don't contradict LDS beliefs in any way. I understand the second question, but even that has to be stretched a little before you can call it a discrepancy. Thanks for using Book of Mormon passages though. That's very helpful.

At 10:20 PM, Blogger David Rhoades said...

Thanks for your insights, Brian. I'm certainly not an expert on the LDS faith. In my discussion and asking of these questions, I made sure to communicate that these were my understandings of LDS teachings, and that I would like them to correct them where I've misunderstood.

They "adjusted" my understandings of LDS doctrine on the 1st three questions. What surprised me (and opened up a door to me sharing the gospel) was that they plainly stated that people did not need to be born again--that all people are God's children and just needed to be taught correctly.

We ultimately concluded our discussion in an amicable manner, and I left the door open to continue it further.


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